Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm Beggin' for No Bacon

I've heard of bacon-wrapped scallops, and a few years ago, at a Christmas party, I had two. They were delicious; the large, clean, muscle-y scallops, almost two inches in diameter, gingerly wrapped in a thin slice of bacon. But recently, it seems like the best gift to give yourself and your guests comes wrapped in a strip of salty pork.

As I peruse the Web sites of Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appetit for good appetizer recipes, I find myself coming up short on new ideas. Mainly because it seems like everything these days needs to be wrapped in bacon to be good.

Take a peek; any seafood that can be grilled can also be wrapped in bacon as the summer melts into fall. I do not like this new trend. I cannot understand it. From scallops, it has progressed on, surrounding shrimp, a whole trout, and, as reported by a co-worker, an entire burger patty. Is anyone else confused by this madness? Is this necessary? And, more important to foodies, is this even good?

Bacon, by nature, is flavorful, salty, and distinct. Added to any dish, it's presence is immediately identifiable. But wrapping something in raw bacon and cooking it only infuses the strong flavor into the food. It seems as if it could be almost overwhelming, making said trout to taste like a flaky, light-textured... piece of bacon. And I'm including prosciutto in this too. Sorry, but for all the delicacy of prosciutto, it's similar enough to bacon. No matter how much you're trying to class a dish up, you're still doing so by encasing it in a salty strip of a pig.

Admittedly, I don't eat bacon and I don't eat pork. So maybe I'm being unfair. But I also don't eat red meat, like that burger I mentioned, yet I'm disturbed by ruining beef's own flavor in an effort to try an make a staple more upscale.

It's a staple for a reason, just like good trout and grilled shrimp in the summer. When we think of these classic foods, it's because you can do so much or just a little to them, and they're still good. Thread some shrimp on a skewer, fire them up plain, and I'll bet they'll still be delicious. Marinades and rubs are meant to enhance the flavor of these dishes, not mask it.

And to me, that is precisely what wrapping food in bacon does. It takes the true flavor of the food and covers it up with another. If you ask me, that's just not fair.

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